The Mighty Thor #1
Story: Jason Aaron
Art: Russell Dauterman
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Joe Sabino
Cover: Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson, Olivier Coipel, Mike Deodato, Sarah Jean Maefs, Judy Stephens
Thor created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby.
Despite the #1 designation, The Mighty Thor follows up on the previous series’ final panel revelation that Thor’s longtime love interest Jane Foster had assumed the Thunder God’s mantle. More importantly, the new series retains the old creative team and the overall direction they were mapping out before being interrupted by Secret Wars. While this doesn't make it the most convenient jumping on point, there’s no lapse in quality from their work in the previous series. If anything, the team is finally settling into a comfortable groove now that the whole mystery of the new Thor’s identity has been resolved.
The issue actually feels a bit like the arrival of a Game of Thrones season premiere after a lengthy hiatus. There’s a lot to catch up on, and the story moves briskly from scene to scene. The failure of Jane’s chemotherapy treatments to stem her cancer, Thor’s evolving relationship with Earth’s superhero community, the deteriorating marriage of Odin and Freyja, the suddenly missing Odinson, the fallout from the Frost Giants retrieval of Laufey’s skull, the unholy alliance between Dario Agger and Malekith, and their secret genocidal campaign against Alfheim. Each plot point serves to increase the sense of unease as Jane’s many enemies, mundane and divine, are lining up against her.
One of the most fun things about the series is how it continues to poke fun at the more regressive features of the fantasy genre. Odin’s prejudice against the new Thor has come to negatively impact how he governs Asgardia. The realm eternal has never been a functioning democracy, but Odin’s misdirected antagonism has edged him even closer to totalitarian rule. Yet he still fails to recognize that the true enemies of his kingdom are serving it a generous helping of warmongering, corporate greed and environmental destruction, all while he imprisons or alienates its most effective protectors and hampers the efforts of its staunchest allies. If this isn’t also writer Jason Aaron making some loose reference to the demoralizing state of contemporary American politics, then what is?
What sets the overall tone for the comic is Jane’s losing battle with cancer. As she undergoes her regular treatment at a hospital, she monologues through a series of captions with almost clinical detachment the debilitating effects of chemotherapy on her mind and body. She even reveals how the enchantment of Mjolnir is actually neutralizing the chemotherapy, thus making every transformation into Thor nudge her closer to death. This sense of inevitability Aaron invokes is enhanced by the cold sterility of the hospital environment drawn by Russell Dauterman. This is the series’ first intimate look at Jane when she’s not playing thunder goddess, and it's a harrowing portrait of human fragility for a mainstream superhero comic.
But at the first sign of danger, Jane leaps into action. Her single-handed feat has her stopping a plummeting space station from crashing into the Washington DC Mall and saving everyone on board. Dauterman illustrates its physics-defying glory with his characteristic use of exploding jagged panels. He continues to excel with supernaturally-based action, and this particular issue allows him to draw more of Asgardia and the various mythological denizens of Norse mythology. But it’s the digitally rendered technicolor palette of colorist Matthew Wilson that rounds out the picture by imbuing the otherworldly setting with a warm glow, filling all negative space with mysterious, cackling magical energy.